If there is an issue with the release of Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, it is that it has taken a surprising amount of time for this manga to be released. This is especially true when you consider that this manga is the one directly based on the game, while another Danganronpa 2 manga, Ultimate Luck and Hope and Despair, which tells the same story from the view of another character, came out in English first, by over a year.
The manga itself, however, is a perfectly decent read. For those who have not played the original game, the series follows a group of students at Hope’s Peak Academy (like in the original Danganronpa) each of whom is the “Ultimate” in their field. However, our hero in this story, Hajime Hinata, is unaware of what his Ultimate is. What is odder is their teacher: a friendly and alive, stuffed pink rabbit named Magical Miracle Girl Usami, who tells the class that they are about to go on a school trip.
The entire class black out and find themselves on the tropical Jabberwock Island. The place appears to be a peaceful tropical resort, but the peace is quickly disrupted by the rival of the headmaster of Hope’s Peak – the sinister black-and-white stuffed bear Monokuma. Once again, Monokuma plans to send the entire class into despair by making the classmates try to murder each other and get away with the crime. If the rest of the class solve the murder, the murderer is executed, but if they fail to solve it, then everyone else but the murderer is killed.
As with all the Danganronpa series, the wide range of weird characters are the main appeal. Aside from Hinata and the antagonist Monokuma, the main character is arguably Nagito Komaeda, the Ultimate Lucky Student, which was the Ultimate title held by the hero of the first Danganronpa game, Makoto Naegi. However, Nagito is slightly more… deranged than most. Those familiar with the Danganronpa games will also recognise another old student returning to the class, the Ultimate Affluent Progeny Byakuya Togami, albeit there is a change in his appearance that remains unexplained in this first volume.
Other entertaining character that appear in this series include the clumsy Ultimate Nurse Mikan Tsumiki; Sonia Nevermind, the Ultimate Princess of the small European country of Novoselic; and the gothic Ultimate Breeder Gundham Tanaka, who is incredibly overdramatic and is protective of his pet hamsters.
As well as the thrilling story and the telling of the case that appears in this opening volume, the artwork by artist Kuroki Q is also deeply engrossing. There are also colour pages at the beginning of the book too which are equally well executed – although given the subject matter of the story, perhaps “executed” is not the right choice of phrase.
The only downside for this reviewer is the translation. Translator Jackie McClure has for some reason made the accent of Fuyuhiko Kuzuryu, the Ultimate Yakuza, to be very broadly accented, which does not appear in the game. For example, he says “da” for “the” and he drops the last letters of words, such as “an’” for “and” and the “g” off any word ending “ing”. I’m not entirely sure this is the right move.
Overall however, this manga is still worth a read for fans of the games and has been a long while coming. Hopefully the manga for V3 may eventually come soon too.